Now that I have a coupon blog, I don’t have nearly as much time to coupon. Kinda ironic, huh? The truth is that we all have busy schedules and you have to do what you can with the time you have. You may think that you just don’t have time to coupon, but the truth is you probably could do more than you think! Here’s a few tips to help you out.
Plan Your Meals & Your Shopping List
Watch our store deals here on Two Kids and a Coupon and your other favorite deal sites for coupon match ups for the stores you shop and what to buy for the best deals each week. One of my favorite places to get match ups is from the great coupon community at A Full Cup.
Only Stick With the Coupons You’ll Actually Use
Yeah, that may be a REALLY good coupon for denture cream or cat food, but if you don’t have dentures or a cat, do you really need to cut it out? Occasionally I’ll clip out something really high value for a friend or family member, or if I know it will mean a freebie that would be great for donation. However for the most part, I only clip the coupons I know we’ll actually use. Yes, that means that lots of coupons in the inserts go unused, and lots of digital ones go unprinted, but if you don’t need it, don’t clip it or buy it. It’ll save you tons of time and money in the long run anyway.
Use Printable Coupons
We live in a rural area that usually doesn’t get the “good” coupons from the bigger cities coupon inserts. Instead we rely mostly on printable coupons, and this is an easy way to get the coupons you need when them and not have to buy several papers. My favorite sites for coupons are Coupons.com, Coupon Network, RedPlum, Ready Set Eat and Smart Source. Be sure to join the Coupons.com savings club for special access to limited high value coupons. You’ll have to enter a credit card to get it, but you won’t be charged and will get free access for a year to some amazing coupons.
Don’t Try to Save on EVERYTHING
The truth is, nope I don’t use coupons on every single item. It’s just not always possible when you’re short on time or shopping with kids. Watch for sales and deals, match up with coupons you have when possible, and if it’s free or cheap, stock up.
Extreme Couponing is a TV show and not real life
Yes, it would be super cool if we could all save 99% on our grocery bill or get $500 worth of groceries for 23 cents, but the important thing to remember that the transactions they show are TV, not necessarily real life. The TV series doesn’t show that these people also spend hundreds of dollars buying those coupons, dozens of hours worth of time planning the transaction , and everything was also pre-approved by the store ahead of time and edited to show it going smoothly. For the most part, “real” people in real life with jobs and kids do not have the time or resources to do this. Instead, use the coupons you can and get the deals you can. Savings of 10%, 20% and 30% are more realistic when you’ve got limited time to spend on it, and most importantly be proud of your savings however much they are – it’s still more than you were saving before!
Go Digital Whenever Possible
Did you know that you can get many coupons digitally? I LOVE getting coupons on my smart phone and it saves lugging a coupon box or binder everywhere as well as my kids. Digital coupons are quick and easy, and you’ve got them on your phone or rewards card when you need them. Some of my favorites are Savingstar and Cellfire, and Target has some great text coupons too that you can stack with manufacturer coupons for even more savings. Join the text club for Redbox for free movie rentals and for your favorite restaurants for money saving coupons when dining out.
Make Sure a Deal is Really a Deal When You Consider Time and Effort
Yes, there may be a smokin’ hot offer at CVS or Rite Aid, but is it worth a tank of gas to get there and dragging your kids out to buy allergy medicine or toothpaste at 11 o’clock at night? No, probably not. Before you drop everything to go snag a deal, be sure to do a quick calculation if it’s really worth it. For example, our nearest Walgreens and Target are 30 miles away. It’ll take about $9 in gas, and an hour in the car round trip for us to go. That immediately makes many deals, not such a great deal after all. Make sure you consider your time, cost of any coupons (if you purchase additional ones) and gas to get there) before you drop everything to go snag a deal that might be gone before you get there anyway.
It’s Ok to Let a Good Deal Go
The truth is, if you have a life or kids or a job, you’re not going to be able to do every deal. That’s OK. You’re still saving money on other things and life and your family are more important. Do what you can, and let some of those deals go by. It’ll be on sale again, and maybe you’ll be able to score it next time.
Stockpile. Stockpile. Stockpile.
Recently when we had workers in our house, they asked if we were survivalists due to the amount of groceries and supplies on shelves in our basement. The truth is, this is just our stockpile that we’ve built up of non-perishable items. As a general rule, when a product you use is free or really, really cheap —STOCK UP. As long as it won’t spoil, buy a supply for at least a couple months and then you should be able to wait until the next deal for it and avoid paying full price. I have at least a dozen bottles of shampoo, twenty lotions, and at least 30 razors or more, as well as many other items like canned goods, paper products and more. We LOVE our stockpile and in addition to saving money, it saves tons of time. It avoids last minute runs to the store for single items like razors or shampoo, and cuts my grocery bill significantly every weeks since we typically just buy produce, meat and milk and a few sale items. It also is a life saver when you have spur of the moment gifts, need to take treats for school events or snacks for the office.
Share the Wealth.
Ok. I know I include this in nearly everything I write about using coupons, but it’s something we feel strongly about! No matter what your budget, if you can share some of your coupon goodies with others. There are so many in need that every little bit can count. If you get a great deal or score some great freebies, consider sharing just a couple with those in need at your local food pantry, charity or shelter. They’ll definitely be appreciated – more than you think!
What are your tips for saving time on couponing?